1704009543 No respite during emergencies in Quebec –

No respite during emergencies in Quebec –

In Quebec, hospital emergency rooms are overcrowded again after a quieter period at Christmas. The resurgence of respiratory viruses is sending many Quebecers to the emergency room.

Health care facilities in the Montreal region had an average occupancy rate of over 100% on Saturday evening. Other regions were also particularly affected, particularly those of Laval and the Laurentides, where the occupancy rate was close to 140%, according to Index Santé (new window) (external link).

A few days after Christmas, traffic in Quebec emergency rooms increased again. Some health facilities in Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec reached 190% capacity on Wednesday. On the same day, hospitals in Estrie and Abitibi-Témiscamingue also recorded high traffic. Even on the North Coast, some health facilities were overcrowded Thursday.

The vice-president of the Association of Emergency Physicians of Quebec, Dr. Delphine Rémillard Labrosse, however, recalls that such traffic in December is not surprising.

Every year we expect significant traffic jams at this time of year, so this is no exception compared to other years, emphasizes Dr. Remillard Labrosse.

Delphine Rémillard Labrosse during a video conference interview.

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Delphine Rémillard Labrosse is vice-president of the Association of Emergency Physicians of Quebec.

Photo: Radio-Canada

Professor of the Department of Life Sciences at UQAM and expert in virology, Benoît Barbeau, agrees. In his opinion, the resurgence of respiratory viruses is not surprising, especially because most of them are transmitted through airborne aerosols.

It's simply because people are more self-absorbed [l’hiver]he explains.

The organization of hospitals

Ms. Rémillard Labrosse believes that the overload of hospitals is not only due to the arrival of new patients, but also to the treatment of patients already hospitalized.

In her opinion, many patients cannot leave the emergency room because there is no space on other floors.

Once we have made the decision to admit these patients as inpatients, we will no longer be able to send them to the ward during their hospital stay. So there is a system problem. The patients remain in the emergency room. Your delays on stretchers in the emergency room are increasing, explains Ms. Rémillard Labrosse.

So it's more of a problem of overload than number of visits, she adds.

Some patients also have to wait for a place in long-term care or another healthcare facility

Continue prevention

Benoît Barbeau also believes that the peak of flu infections has not yet been reached. He recommends that those who have symptoms of a respiratory infection stay home on New Year's Eve.

Ideally, and I know this can be a heartbreaking decision, if you test positive for COVID-19 or even the flu, it's not really the right time to show up to a family gathering, even if you're wearing a mask carries, explains Mr. Barbeau.

A photo portrait of Benoît Barbeau.

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Benoît Barbeau is a professor in the Department of Life Sciences at UQAM and a specialist in virology. (archive photo)

Photo: Photo provided by Benoît Barbeau

According to him, the COVID-19 virus accounts for a significant proportion of reported infections.

Unlike before the pandemic, there is a new virus that is also increasing this burden, so at the service level, at the health care level, at the emergency level. The COVID-19 virus is actually present [et il] He notes that the number of hospitalizations is increasing.

He therefore emphasizes that we must remain vigilant to prevent transmission of the virus.

Let us remember that the virus still exists, even if at this moment we assume that the pandemic is behind us […] very present in the population. So we still have to use it […] “Good respiratory etiquette, but also good judgment, especially in terms of our behavior, in terms of the places we are,” says Mr. Barbeau.


MGH Montreal General Hospital Montreal General Hospital

Photo: Radio-Canada / Jean-Claude Taliana

Staff out of breath

The increase in emergency room occupancy comes as the Quebec Interprofessional Health Federation, which represents 80,000 nurses, has still not reached an agreement with the provincial government on a new collective bargaining agreement.

In addition to working conditions, the salary issue continues to divide the two camps. In December, FIQ called for a 20% increase for its members over four years. In return, the state government offered him 12.7% over 5 years.

The FIQ has also decided not to make any public statements until January 15 to encourage progress in the negotiations.

With information from Audrey Neveu